Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD for the April 29 Manifest two-parter on NBC.
Manifest went big to bring the major storylines of Season 3 together with a two-parter that delivered some tragedies, some injuries, some reveals, and one big death among the heroes that is going to have a lasting impact on Grace Stone. Despite the fact that Grace and Cal had spent multiple episodes lying low with her stepbrother Tarik, everything fell apart when their whereabouts hit the web... and the police scanner that put them back on the grid. Before the end of the episode, Tarik was killed while trying to protect Grace and her family, and actress Athena Karkanis spoke with CinemaBlend about the big emotional blow to the Stone family.
Tarik's death was heartbreaking for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that the only reason Grace and Cal's location went public was that Tarik was so excited about potentially starting a restaurant with her that his chatter got a little bit too loud in a bar. When Jace showed up, racing the clock to try and kill Cal before he drowned from the inside, he got to Tarik before Tarik could get to the rifle he was looking for to protect Grace, Cal, and poor little Eden, who was getting quite a ride during the races back and forth to the root cellar. Jace stabbed Tarik, who lived just long enough to die in Grace's arms.
It was an incredibly emotional death scene for a character that Grace, Cal, and viewers had gotten to know well over the last episodes, and Athena Karkanis explained her approach to Grace having to watch Tarik die, completely unable to help him. The actress shared:
I don't know that I had a kind of premeditated approach to that. Warner Miller [who played Tarik] and I clicked right away. And I really liked him, and he's a fantastic, talented actor. So that also makes it easier. And I remember on the day that we were shooting, saying to the director, because I knew I would have to cry and stuff like that. I remember saying to the director, 'Are you going to shoot the wide [angle] first or the close up?' and she's like, 'We'll do the wide, we'll do this, we'll give you lots of time to get there.' And I was like, 'Actually, can we do it the other way around? Because I just feel like I'm going to be able to get there right away, and I don't want to dry out by the time we get to the close up.' And this is kind of cheesy, maybe actor speak, but I just felt like the Muse sort of tapped me on the shoulder that day. I didn't have to do too much work to get there. And the emotion kind of just came, which is not always the case. And sometimes it's really hard to get there. So I just felt really lucky that day that it kind of just happened.
Anybody who watched these two episodes of Manifest can attest to the fact that Athena Karkanis definitely did deliver on the crying and emotion in Grace's final moments with Tarik before he died from his wounds. Poor Grace went from hearing him scream to discovering him lying on the ground with a stab wound (just one locked door away from a rifle) to sobbing over him as he died. Just try to watch that scene and not feel affected by it!
Of course, Grace was still in danger at that point in the episode, as Jace was still on the move and on the hunt for Cal, and between the poor government agent who had been shot and then Tarik, Jace had made it clear that he was happy to kill if it got him closer to Cal. Fortunately, the rest of the family ultimately survived and Jace perished in a pretty gruesome fashion by drowning from the inside.
Grace will live on thanks to her brother refusing to give up the location of the root cellar where she, Cal, and Eden were hiding. Athena Karkanis shared how Tarik's death will change Grace as she moves on with her life after losing her brother and making the emotional decision about what to do with Jace:
It's hard, because it feels like he kind of makes a sacrifice for the rest of the family, for the safety of the rest of the family. We're all sort of like fighting this war, against everything that threatens the passengers and the 828 survivors, and he's kind of like a fallen soldier in this war. And so even though it's tragic, and she's gutted by it, there's still more war to fight, so she can't just retreat into her grief. And it just raises the stakes again, this constant reminder that there is risk, and there is peril, all around them. And Grace is very heartbroken by it in the coming episodes.
In some ways, up until this point, the Stones had gotten lucky in how they've all managed to evade death even when the odds seemed pretty stacked against them. In this episode alone, Michaela was pushed off a cliff and survived with some painful injuries but otherwise alive and well enough to fight another day. Zeke, now a part of the Stone family, even survived his own death date! The loss of Tarik is the kind of loss that they don't often have to feel, so it's no wonder that Grace is heartbroken. But, as Athena Karkanis elaborated to explain, that doesn't mean viewers will see a Grace without hope:
The sort of renewed relationship that she had with her brother, however brief it was, it sort of inspired her. She's emboldened to pursue things... She ends up kind of pursuing a business idea that Tarik had pitched to her and wants to do it in honor of his memory. Grace is one of those sort of like, 'Alright, pick yourself up, dust yourself off' types of people and so she is constantly soldiering on. She's the foundation of this family. She's the pegs that keep your tent from flying away in the wind. So she has to kind of just keep soldiering on and she can't just wallow and disappear into her grief.
While it's probably safe to say that Grace won't open an 828-themed restaurant exactly like what Tarik had in mind, pursuing some kind of business idea in his honor is a pretty great way to memorialize him. Besides, maybe it would be nice for Grace to have something that has nothing to do with Callings or death dates or government agencies. His death combined with everything else Jace had done pushed her to the brink in the two-parter, to the point that she seemed ready to shoot him dead with a rifle, and could probably use a break now.
It was pretty unclear which way she would go with Jace at first, but in his efforts to talk her down, Ben pointed out that Jace was minutes away from dying anyway, so she wouldn't need to shoot him for him to be gone. Grace ultimately didn't kill Jace, and he did indeed die, but I found myself wondering if Grace would have pulled the trigger on him if she hadn't known that he was about to be killed regardless. Athena Karkanis shared her thoughts:
No, I don't think she would have done it. I mean, that would have been really cool if she did. If she did and then Grace takes like a really dark turn for the rest of the season. [laughs] Because she's now a cold-blooded killer. Yeah, I don't know. That's hard, because he did just do something really horrible. Vengeance can be blinding. But she's so kind and good. I don't know. Maybe if it was one of the kids. She would do that. I don't know. That's a tough one. I could probably argue in both directions.
Well, so far so good when it comes to Grace avoiding becoming a cold-blooded killer! And hopefully she'll never have to deal with something happening to one of her kids like what happened to Tarik. Still, Manifest can always be trusted to deliver big twists and new layers to the mysteries, so nothing is guaranteed. Showrunner Jeff Rake may have a six-year plan for the show, but not even the stars know whether or not they'll be part of all those six seasons.
New episodes of Manifest will continue airing on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, and Law & Order: SVU will be back next week to take back the 9 p.m. slot after Manifest aired its two-parter this week. The Season 3 finale date for Manifest has already been set, but there is still over a month to go before fans find out about the next batch of big questions they'll be left pondering over hiatus, assuming that Manifest joins the likes of some other NBC series in receiving a renewal.